Prudence Island Ferry: Service from Bristol ends Sept. 14

File photo shows The Prudence Island Ferry at the Bristol landing on Thames Street. File photo shows The Prudence Island Ferry at the Bristol landing on Thames Street.

PORTSMOUTH — Prudence Island Ferry has announced on its Facebook page that it will end its runs out of Bristol on Sept. 14.

The company also says it will most likely “take the winter off” and  “start a new service from elsewhere” in the spring of 2015.

“Since the Town of Bristol refused to entertain us on a new lease and the Portsmouth Town Council under the direction of James (Seveney) and Administrator John Klimm went ‘out of their way’ to get rid of us, we will end service for good from Bristol on Sept. 14,” states a message that was posted on the Prudence Island Facebook page just before 9:30 p.m. Thursday.

In a message posted four minutes earlier and signed by “Eric” — Eric Leite is the boat’s captain — Prudence Island Ferry states, “It appears that A&R Marine will be the new ferry service to Prudence as of Sept. 15.”

A&R confirmed as much in its most recent newsletter.

“We have a signed lease with the Town of Bristol starting September 15, 2014. On this date we will start the repairs to the west end of the pier under the existing ramp, and then our ramp will be installed,” states the newsletter.

In February A&R Marine, doing business as Prudence & Bay Islands Transport, was granted by the R.I. Division of Public Utilities and Carriers (DPUC) a conditional certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) to operate a ferry between Bristol, Prudence Island and Hog Island. That put the new company in direct competition with the existing Prudence Island Ferry, which has been the sole provider of ferry service since the mid-’80s.

No winter service planned

Prudence Island Ferry will not be taking any car reservations after Sept. 14, according to its Facebook page. The company will operate a “modified” schedule from Sept. 2 to 14, then “most likely” shut down over the winter and begin a new service from another location next spring.

“This is the end of almost a century of good, reliable, and economical service and I hope everyone is happy with their new ferry company,” the message states. “The end of an era and many fun times. Eric.”

A follower of the ferry company’s Facebook page, Nathan Shaw, posted in reply to the news: “Thank you for the excellent service and all the good times. I look forward to seeing all you guys in the future!”

On Tuesday night, an application by A&R Marine and the Town of Portsmouth to build a new ferry dock on town-owned land next to the Prudence Island Ferry landing at Homestead on Prudence was approved unanimously by the state Coastal Resources Management Council.

While there will be docks for both ferries on Prudence Island should the A&R Marine landing be built, there’s only one dock at this time on the other end of the ride in Bristol. That landing, on Thames Street, was sold by Prudence Island Ferry owner Bruce Medley to the Town of Bristol last year for $800,000.

The town then leased the Bristol property back to Mr. Medley in an agreement that was originally to expire June 14, but was later extended through the summer. A&R Marine will apparently have the lease for the Bristol dock starting Sept. 15, however.

Here is the complete chain of messages posted on the Prudence Island Ferry Facebook page Thursday night:

9:11 p.m.

for car reservations after Sept 14 you must call A&R Marine. Any reservations made with us after this date are no longer valid. Eric

9:22 p.m.

It appears that A&R Marine will be the new ferry service to Prudence as of Sept. 15. As they are confident they will be operating as of this date, we will no longer be in service out of Bristol. We will operate a modified schedule from Sept. 2-14. We will most likely take the winter off and start a new service from elsewhere in the Spring. I will keep everyone updated on this, of course. This is the end of almost a century of good, reliable, and economical service and I hope everyone is happy with their new ferry company. The end of an era and many fun times. Eric

9:28 p.m.

Since the Town of Bristol refused to entertain us on a new lease and the Portsmouth Town Council under the direction of James Seveny and Administrator John Klimm went “out of their way” to get rid of us, we will end service for good from Bristol on Sept. 14.

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One Comment;

  1. Samuel Colt said:

    This story remains unclear – So the owner of the ferry dock in Bristol, Bruce Medley, after being approached by the town to see if he wants to sell, asks for 1.1 million dollars. Town says no, and negotiates down to $800k. He gets a lease until June, and it’s extended to September. He still owns the lift. And he owns the dock at Prudence.
    The current Facebook page for the Ferry – is that the former owner? Or is it someone who leased the ferry from the former owner?
    A&R will be the new operator -using the dock now owned by the town. And they won’t be using the dock at Prudence owned by Medley?
    Instead A&R will pay for the building of the new dock, on public land on Prudence?
    Why would the current operator of the ferry be upset that another operator is coming in after selling the property that made this change possible?

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